In the past, I considered myself a religious person. I prided myself in being someone who was pious. I made a mental list of my “sins”, to be religiously confessed later on. I felt really bad and guilty about my “sins”, which I thought was how it was supposed to be. I felt tortured by them, basically. I also prided myself on knowing what’s right and what’s wrong, what you’re supposed to do and what you’re not supposed to do. I felt proud of being earnest and quiet during mass, when my peers would only be fidgeting in their seats, sharing gossip, or giggling about God-knows-what. Reflection papers in class were wrought with “reflections” about God.
But as time passed and I grew older, things became less black and white. I realized things could be gray. And a great deal of things proved to be.
Now, I don’t consider myself religious at all. I consider myself God-ish though, if there is such a thing. I believe in God, I really do. I believe in an entity who is somehow omnipresent, and who has a hand in what happens to us. For example, I pray for things to happen. I also thank God for good things that happen. And when something works out after a bad stretch, I think that God maybe meant for it to happen.
However, I find it hard to believe in religion, which is, to me, just something that some people prescribe. It’s an oligarchy, almost. How can I believe in something that was written so many years ago, allegedly by people who had direct contact with God? Why should I follow doctrine, when to me it just seems like a bunch of rules that men in pointy hats decided upon? For example, why is it that you’ll go to hell if you don’t go to mass every Sunday? Or why is drinking so bad? Or sex? Or homosexuality? Some things are intuitive. You can figure it out on your own. For example, of course it’s bad to steal, or to kill or rape someone. But some “sins” just don’t make sense. Why is sexual behavior bad? Why is something that is natural, something that can bring a man and a woman closer, bad? It’s something that can express love and intimacy, and really, something that just comes naturally.
Why does religion have to condemn so many things? Somehow, I’d like to believe that people are good, as opposed to what my religion dictates– that people are evil, sinful, dirty, and just lacking, and that we have to be saved. Saved from what? Do they mean to tell us that kind people, people who live honestly, who spread joy and love to the world, have souls that are lacking, just because they don’t have knowledge of the “correct” concept of “God”? Does that mean that God only “saves” those who happen to have knowledge of him? I do not like what my religion prescribes, that it is the only one true religion, and that people who don’t abide my its rules, or agree with its vision of God, will burn in hell.
Most of all, I’d like to think that God is wiser and more understanding than they make him to be. I’d like to think that his law is more than a bunch of rules that you Must abide by, no questions asked. I’d like to think his understanding transcends these rules, these rules that seem to express such a narrow point of view. I’d like to believe in his goodness. Ultimately, that’s what I believe God is– goodness. A benevolent being, as opposed to this demanding, judgmental being they make him seem. To me, He is someone who created the earth, the good things in this world, and someone who meant for us to be Happy.
It doesn’t make sense, following a religion that tells you to hate yourself, and things seemingly inherent and natural. I don’t think I can agree with a religion that makes people feel so bad about themselves, feel so damn guilty all the time. I also don’t believe in the concept of saints. It all feels so contrived. All of it–it just seems like a bunch of people dictating on what to do, and what is right. Ultimately, it’s just an institution, a worldly institution. So maybe I’m not religious at all. This being said, I don’t think that I’m a bad person. More so, I’m not an atheist or an agnostic. I won’t stop going to mass, because to me, that is still a way by which I can show my faith to the God I believe in. However, I can conclude that I am not religious at all. But somehow this doesn’t make me feel bad at all. Outright demonstrations of “faith” have never appealed to me. People singing songs, jumping up and down in the name of the Lord were always things that didn’t agree with me. I preferred private conversations with God– quiet, and, ultimately, just private. When I look at the sea or mountains, or trees or flowers or leaves, I feel God, more than in the imposing buildings they call the church, meant to dictate people on how to communicate with God, and how to live their lives.